To help get us back on the right (breakfast) track, we’ve turned to the Blue Zones—home to many of the longest-living people in the world—to see what they’re serving up. Ahead, we delve into some of the main breakfast staples of these regions and share a few simple recipes for healthy aging.
Why is breakfast so important for healthy aging?
According to a recent study of over 30,000 American adults, folks who neglect to eat breakfast tend to miss out on key nutrients—calcium, vitamin C, and fiber, to name a few. This is one of the reasons why dietitians often stress the importance of eating a good breakfast daily.
Dan Buettner, a National Geographic reporter, longevity expert, and founder of the Blue Zones, also firmly believes that eating a healthy breakfast consistently can boost your longevity over time. His personal favorite? Buettner shared in a recent Instagram post that his go-to breakfast meal is as simple as it gets: oatmeal. Aside from tasting great, he explains that it’s high in soluble fiber (which helps with digestion), protein, and vitamins.
Of course, if oatmeal doesn’t sound as exciting, Buettner says there are plenty of other Blue Zone-inspired breakfast staples to try. To that end, his other close favorite might surprise you: It’s minestrone soup. While in the U.S. folks might be more accustomed to slurping soup for lunch or dinner, in Sardinia, Italy (one of the five Blue Zones), it’s the norm.
So, what does breakfast look like for folks in the Blue Zones?
According to Buettner’s research, breakfast (or the first meal of the day) in the Blue Zones usually consists of protein, complex carbohydrates (like beans or veggies), and plant-based fats (like nuts, seeds, and oils). Additionally, he notes that the majority of the day’s calories are consumed before noon in these regions.
According to Buettner’s research, breakfast (or the first meal of the day) in the Blue Zones usually consists of protein, complex carbohydrates (like beans or veggies), and plant-based fats (like nuts, seeds, and oils).
To be more specific, Buettner breaks it down by zone for us. Nicoyans often eat two breakfasts with a light dinner; Ikarians and Sardinians make lunch the big meal of the day; Okinawans often skip dinner altogether; Many Adventists (in Loma Linda, California) eat only two meals a day, one mid-morning and another around 4 p.m.
That said, ahead we share five delicious Blue Zone-inspired breakfast recipes that highlight the foods commonly consumed for breakfast in each of these vastly different regions.
5 delicious Blue Zone breakfast recipes
1. Savory Oatmeal
Much like Buettner, folks in Loma Linda, California rely on oatmeal and oats as a go-to breakfast option. But if you’re looking to change things up from the usual sweet cinnamon-apple oatmeal combination, this savory oatmeal recipe is the perfect choice. It’s made with carrots, salsa, and avocado. Trust: You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how tasty savory oats can be.
Get the recipe: Savory Oatmeal
2. Minestrone Soup
If you’re more in the camp of noshing on something savory (over sweet) for breakfast, it might be time to turn to a soul-warming cup of minestrone soup as the Sardinians do in Italy. This recipe is packed with veggies like celery, carrots, and fennel, and tons of protein thanks to fava beans, a healthy aging staple. Dare we say, it’s soup-erb.
Get the recipe: Minestrone Soup
3. Miso Soup
In Japan, it’s uncommon to find sweet waffles and pancakes at the breakfast buffet. Instead, you’ll discover that most breakfast items will be savory. (And like the Sardinians, soup is also on the menu!) This nourishing miso soup recipe features ingredients like gut-healthy fermented miso paste, shiitake mushrooms, and tofu. Pair it with a side of grilled fish, and you’ve got yourself the perfect Japanese-style breakfast.
Get the recipe: Miso Soup
4. Dried Berry Granola
Folks in Ikaria, Greece, consume copious amounts of yogurt, which has been found to be essential for maintaining optimal gut health. What better way to enjoy a bowl of yogurt while giving your gut a boost of probiotics than with a heaping pile of crunchy dried berry granola?
Get the recipe: Dried Berry Granola
5. Beans and Rice Breakfast Bowl
If meal prep is the name of the game, this tasty beans and rice breakfast bowl is perfect for prepping in advance for the week ahead. Plus, it features an ideal balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fruits, and veggies with ingredients like black beans, brown rice, avocado, and squash. What more could you want?
Get the recipe: 5-Minute Tasty Squash and Beans
An RD shares whether or not breakfast should be considered the most important meal of the day: